242 BB eye: Mad about method – why methods matter Tim Birkhead
244 News and comment Maddy Hine and Russ Malin
250 The Paddyfield Pipit in Britain Alexander C. Lees, Chris Batty and Christopher J. McInerny, on behalf of BOURC
261 Great White Egrets in England: tipping the balance Alison Morgan, Alison Blaney, Andrew Bloomfield, Leigh Lock and Graham White
275 The Pallid Harrier in Europe: a tentative interpretation of the change in status Michel Antoine Réglade, Maëlle Bujaud, Mike Henry and Alexander Sokolov
288 Rarities Committee news
299 Recent reports
When a large pipit was found in Cornwall in October 2019, it caused some head-scratching amongst birders; it didn’t seem to fit with any of the expected species. Some detective work, involving analysis of sound recordings and DNA, showed that the bird was a Paddyfield Pipit, a species hitherto unrecorded in Europe. There was no doubt about the identification and the record was duly accepted by BBRC, but the bird’s provenance was more difficult to establish. A long investigation was undertaken by BOURC and, ultimately, the bird was placed in Category D of the British List. The fascinating write-up in this month’s issue gives an insight into the BOURC assessment and the difficulties faced when making a decision on such a record.
Our two other main papers concern birds with increasing populations in western Europe, though likely with different driving forces behind them. The Great White Egret is one of the many wetland-species success stories. With a burgeoning population on the near Continent, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the species bred in Britain. A well-established population in Somerset appears to be the start of a national colonisation. In contrast, the phenomenal rise of the Pallid Harrier in western Europe seems to be down to a shift in distribution rather than an expansion per se. With declines in eastern Europe and changes in farming practices across much of the species’ range, these nomadic harriers seem to have taken the opportunity to exploit and settle in suitable habitat in the west.